Steve Russell: Good may come from murder of Cecil the Lion

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in 2010. Photo by Daughter#3 via Wikipedia

Judge and professor Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, examines the fallout over the killing of Cecil the Lion by an American dentist:
Goodwell Nzou, a tribal African from Zimbabwe writing in The New York Times, offered a more substantive criticism of Cecil symps. Lions, he reminded us, not only eat people’s livestock—they eat people. Nzou had plenty of first hand stories of how lions had terrorized whole villages until taken down by a hunter, often white. There are similar stories about tigers in India, also a threatened species.

We share the tribal form of social organization with Africans, but Nzou points up a difference in our experience with non-human animals. Plenty of American Indians have died by claw or hoof or fang, but largely when the humans chose the encounter. Our experience of hunting is closer to the bone than the white man with the high-powered rifle. In modern times, you don’t see hunters lined up to stalk an American bison in “bow season, “ but for our ancestors prior to First Contact, it was always bow season and we did eat bison meat.

Casualties were part of the hunt, but we have had little experience of being the hunted. A wolf pack, a bear, a mountain lion would take a human being now and then but to consider our people terrorized would be an exaggeration. In most deadly animal encounters, we started it and we prevailed.

I would say to Mr. Nzou, with due respect to our differing heritages, I do not criticize his people for protecting their young with firearms any more than I would criticize Cecil for protecting his with fang and claw.

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Cecil the Lion Died for Our Sins: Good May Come From His Murder (Indian Country Today 8/14)

Related Stories
Steve Russell: The Great White Lion Hunter kills only for thrills (8/3)

Join the Conversation